University has many secrets that you will find out gradually, during the course of your studies. One of the secrets is that the first year of university does count, unlike some people say. Another secret is that your university assignments are a gold mine of employability skills.
In this article, I am sharing five secrets about university that you should keep in mind.
1. The first year is the most important one
No matter what anyone says, your first year is the most important year of all – even if the grades do not count towards your final degree classification. Here are a few reasons why:
- It is one year of your time. Surely, your time is one of the most valuable things you have, isn’t it? Therefore, the way you spend your time matters, too!
- Your first year grades will count when you are applying for a placement or an internship.
- The first year is the best time to set you in ‘the working mode’ – so spend your time accumulating academic and professional experience. Idleness and procrastination can be very addictive and may creep into your second year totally unnoticed, and it’s best to fight them early on when you have the time for such a fight.
- The first year is also a chance to discover yourself: what you like, what your strengths are, what your studying and working style is, how you feel about working in teams – and improve on any potential weaknesses. Making this effort and learning more about yourself may not count towards your grades – but it does count towards your future, whatever path you choose after graduation.
2. You don’t have to have a job to get work experience
Consider yourself lucky because you are at university. You can get work experience by simply doing what every student does. The trick is to do it well, making all the effort you can.
For example, almost every student is a member of a sports club or a student society (read below). However, not everyone does more than just being a member. You can get excellent work experience and acquire valuable skills if you just become active and start helping the exec team run the club or the society.
3. Students’ societies are the best thing since sliced bread
One of the greatest things about student societies is that you can create your own work experience – and invent job titles, too! Normally the exec team comprises the president, the vice-president, the treasurer and the secretary. However, once the society has a website, a blog or at least a Facebook page, and decides to communicate with other bodies outside the walls of the university, many other jobs can appear that you can claim:
- A social media officer;
- A secretary/events officer;
- A communications officer;
- A copywriter;
- A liaisons manager – and so on.
However, your work experience is not about a flashy job title, but about helping the exec team in all ways that you can think of. Be sure, they will appreciate it – and you will get plenty to do.
4. Your entire university experience is a goldmine for employability skills
For example, here’s what you can learn from sports clubs and societies:
- Organisational skills;
- Teamwork skills;
- Interpersonal skills;
- Motivation and taking initiative;
Here’s what you can learn from university assignments:
- Time management (juggling multiple assignment deadlines and planning your time when writing an essay);
- Written and spoken communication skills;
- Planning and organising;
- Research and analytical skills.
5. There is no such thing as a useless degree
There is a lot of talk in the media about ‘Mickey Mouse degrees’ and ‘good versus bad universities’. Some of you, who are not studying in Russell Group universities, may be thinking that your degree might be worth less because of that or because of your subject. However, my view on the subject is different. The degree does not make a student; it’s only up to you what you make of your university experience, how you use your time and the opportunities that your degree provides you with.
A non-serious degree is a myth. A non-serious approach is a dangerous reality.
Enjoy your university experience!
P.S. Do you know any other secrets about university that few people bother to tell you? Feel free to share in the comments!